Sabrina Ionescu would have liked to have had more time to make the life decision.
Now that the superstar is officially back at Oregon for her senior season, Ionescu has no time for excuses.
The 2019-20 Ducks — who also return starters Ruthy Hebard, Satou Sabally and Erin Boley from the program’s first Final Four team — are hunting the big-game trophy.
“Set the bar high from the beginning,” Ionescu said during a news conference Tuesday at Matthew Knight Arena. “We’re not going to take any of the losses that we took last year to UCLA, to Stanford. We’re not going to go down that road next year, especially it being me and Ruthy’s last year together.
“We’re going to make the most out of every game, every practice, because it does go by really quickly. We’re already seniors and on a mission to win that national championship.”
The WNBA only gave Ionescu 24 hours after Oregon’s loss to Baylor in the national semifinals to declare herself eligible for the league’s draft, which will be held Wednesday in New York.
After eating dinner so she could “make the decision on a full stomach,” Ionescu went for a walk with her family before. Then she sat down on a bench near their hotel in Tampa, Fla., and had the “I’m staying!” epiphany.
“I think it’s horrible that a student-athlete only gets 24 hours to make one of the biggest decisions of their life,” Ionescu said. “You really don’t have enough time to process what you want to do until after your season is over and 24 hours is not enough.
“Probably the most stressed I’ve been in a very long time with that decision.”
Ionescu strongly considered starting her professional career but was uncomfortable when thinking about what it would be like to tell coach Kelly Graves and her teammates the news.
“There was a hole in my stomach and it just didn’t feel right,” Ionescu said. “At that moment, I knew I wasn’t going to talk myself into leaving.”
Ionescu averaged 19.9 points, 8.2 assists and 7.4 rebounds as a junior.
The 5-foot-11 guard brought the Wade Trophy, which the coaches association gives to the nation’s best player, home from the Final Four and was named the Pac-12 player of the year and a first-team All-American for the second consecutive season.
Ionescu was already asking Graves when offseason workouts are going to get started.
“She’s going to be so determined and focused this year. She’s going to lead this team,” Graves said. “She’s already inspired me and now I know I’ve got to do a good job. I can’t let up at all. It’s on me as well here.
“She has challenged everybody. I love it.”
Ionescu plans to graduate in June with a degree in marketing, advertising and brand management before starting work on a master’s degree during the fall term.
The NCAA’s career triple-double leader has dramatically changed the Oregon women’s basketball brand.
“I made a decision the was best for me,” Ionescu said. “We’re going to be adding a lot of great pieces to an already great puzzle. … Next year is going to be scary.”